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SoCal Supermarkets Reach Tentative Deal With Union

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Three major Southern California supermarkets say they’ve reached a tentative agreement on the pension portion of the labor agreement being negotiated with thousands of unionized grocery store workers.

Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons said in a joint statement late Friday that the companies and the United Food and Commercial Workers have agreed on the employers’ contributions to pension benefits.

Local 770 President Rick Icaza says the union “compromised” on the pension but added that the two sides remain far apart on the issue of employee contributions to health care costs, the major sticking point in the negotiations.

The contract between workers and the stores expired in March. Members already voted to authorize a strike.

On Tuesday, the stores called talk of a strike unnecessary, since talks continue.

A four-month strike and lockout that began in 2003 cost Ralphs and other grocery chains an estimated $2 billion.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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